This post: College Move-In Day: 21 Tips to Make it Stress-Free and Fun
Anyone who’s moved into a college dorm knows… it can be a crazy and stressful time. Long lines to get into the elevators, crowded dorm halls and you can never find a move-in bin when you need one. And since it takes place in August, it’s oftentimes hotter than blazes.
But, with a few simple tips and hacks, you can breeze through move-in day like a pro! From killer tips to prepare for the big day to hacks to make the day go off without a hitch, we’ve rounded up the best-of-the-best move-in day tips for college freshmen!
Here are 21 tips to make college move-in day stress-free and fun!
1. Plan Ahead
Knowing exactly what to bring (and what not to bring) is half the battle when moving into a college dorm. You definitely don’t want to bring everything you own, but you also don’t want to end up packing so light that you don’t have the essentials you need to make your dorm feel like home.
Grab hold of a great dorm checklist (like ours) and check off what you need and want to bring. (Our list covers nearly everything, so don’t feel as though you have to buy everything on the list.)
Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you forget something or later realize you should have brought something – Amazon to the rescue!
Download our FREE Dorm Checklist HERE!
2. Call the College Ahead of Time if You Plan to Elevate Your Bed
If you plan to elevate your dorm bed, be sure to give a quick call to your college’s housing department to arrange for it to be elevated prior to your arrival. (Most colleges won’t let you do it yourself). You will likely be required to put in a “work order” in advance. Also, if you’re worried about falling out of bed in the middle of the night (trust me, it happens), be sure to ask for a bed railing as well.
3. Talk to Your Roommate in Advance if You Want to Coordinate Dorm Colors
A lot of roomies (both girls and guys) love to coordinate colors in their dorm room. Not only does it make the room look more put together, coordinating colors can also make the room look a lot bigger. Reach out to your roommate a few months (or weeks) in advance to square away your color preferences as well as any specific requests you might have. (One of the things my daughter and her roommate wanted was a coffee station, so they chatted in advance about where they wanted it to be set up in the room and who would bring what.)
4. Coordinate Your Move-In Day with Your Roommate
Dorm rooms are typically very small. The last thing you want to do is attempt to move in on the same day as your roommate and try to navigate around all their boxes and bins. Plus, freshmen often bring family members along to help them move in which means there could be several people in the tiny space. To avoid the chaos, coordinate the date and time of your move-in with your roommate. Also, if you can, arrive early on move-in day to avoid the long line of cars and the possibility of not getting a parking space.
5. Bring Help
Setting up a dorm room should never be a “solo” job (it’s more work than you think), but by the same token, don’t bring the whole gang unless you want to be tripping over each other the entire time. Your best bet is to bring two or three people to help and assign them tasks that align with their skills. If Dad or your brother is techy, assign them the job of setting up your printer or electronics, whereas your mom or sister might be better equipped to help you set up your bedding and clothes.
6. Bring a Dolly or Cart
When my daughters moved into their college dorms, it was chaotic. Tons of kids were moving in at the same time and even though the college offered helpers with large rolling bins to help my girls bring their stuff into the dorm, we oftentimes had to wait for a helper and a rolling bin. To avoid having to wait for helpers or having to carry everything you own from your car to your dorm. it’s a good idea to rent or buy your own cart or dolly. You’ll be happy you did!
7. Pack a Toolkit
You might be surprised how many small tasks will require some sort of handy tool in your dorm. Whether you’re assembling a metal fridge cart or putting together extra stand-alone shelving, you’ll be needing a few tools to get the job done. If you’re not sure what to pack, start with a basic toolkit that includes a hammer, screwdrivers, measuring tape, wrench and pliers. (Leave the nails at home since colleges don’t allow students to make any holes in the walls.)
8. Bring a Few Cleaning Supplies
Even though colleges claim they give dorms a thorough cleaning before the start of every new school year, most dorms aren’t necessarily spic and span when you move in. Just in case your dorm needs a quick cleaning before you move in, be sure to pack Windex, dish soap, a small sponge, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, a broom and dustpan, and (if space allows) a mini hand-held vacuum. You should also pack trash bags so you can haul all your trash out of your dorm after you move in.
9. Ditch the Packaging
You’d be shocked how much space packaging takes up. Rather than carting all the packaging from everything you purchased, open everything up (unless, of course, it’s breakable or you’re not sure you’re going to use it) and ditch it. Not only will you end up with far more space in the car, you won’t have the added hassle of having to get rid of all that extra trash on move-in day.
10. Use Plastic Storage Bins
Plastic bins in various sizes are the perfect solution for carting just about everything you need for your dorm including linens, towels, desk supplies, dorm decor, etc. Plus, not only are they great for transporting everything, they also work great to keep your dorm organized and neat.
11. Label & Categorize Everything for Easy Unpacking
It’s SO much easier to unpack on move-in day if you label every box and bin. Keep it simple by packing and labeling everything by category: clothes, electronics, desk supplies, kitchen supplies, bedding, organization, extras, etc. That way you can set up and organize the dorm section by section.
12. Keep Clothes on Hangers
Most dorm rooms have limited space for hanging clothes, so before you bring your entire closet, you might want to pick and choose what you’ll actually need. For easy packing and unloading, keep your clothes on the hangers and use plastic bags to wrap up your hanging clothes. Once you’ve pulled the trash bag around your clothes, simply tie the bag’s drawstring around the top of the hanger to secure the trash bag to the clothes. Your clothes will be so much easier to transport and a breeze to unpack!
13. Pack Water & Snacks
Be sure to pack a small cooler filled with water/drinks along with a few easy-to-carry snacks. Setting up a dorm takes time and when you’re on a roll, you may not want to stop to eat or take a break.
14. Bring a Fan
Because college move-in day takes place in August, it’s oftentimes hotter than heck – both outside and inside the dorm. Cool things down in the dorm while you’re setting up by using an oscillating fan (even a small one will do). There’s nothing worse than trying to work in a small space when it’s 80 plus degrees.
15. Dress Comfortably
Because you’ll be doing a lot of walking, bending, reaching and possibly even climbing stairs, it’s a good idea to dress comfortably. Lightweight clothing and super comfortable shoes with good support are a must. Above all, avoid open-toed shoes at all costs.
16. Buy (or Bring) Things You Won’t Need Until Later
No one says you have to pack everything you need for the entire year of college. You can always order things you might need later from Amazon (or other sites). Also, if you plan on heading home over the holiday break, you can always bring a good portion of your warmer clothes (like boots, a heavy coat and sweatshirts) back with you when you return to campus along with anything else you feel you’ll be needing second semester. (Tip: Be sure to pack a few sweatshirts when you move in – sometimes college classrooms are cold!)
17. Bring a Door Stopper
A door stopper is a must-have on move-in day. With the door propped open, you’ll get a little more air flowing in the dorm while you’re setting up, but mostly, it sends a message to all your new neighbors in the dorm hall that you’re a friendly and welcoming person. In fact, even after you settle in, think about leaving your dorm room door open as much as possible – most college kids agree it’s a great way to meet a bunch of new kids in college!
18. Bring LOTS of Command Hooks
Few move-in day tips are more important than this one. Bring LOTS of Command Hooks. Since you can’t make any holes in the walls you’ll be using them for everything! Use them for hanging curtains, tapestries, pictures and posters, jewelry, your robe, backpack, purses and so much more.
19. Introduce Yourself to Students in Your Dorm Hall
This is an exciting time for you! Don’t miss the opportunity to introduce yourself to students down the hall. Pop in and say hi, ask where they’re from, what they’ll be majoring in, etc. Remember, everyone is feeling a little nervous, so don’t be shy. Be brave and put yourself out there!
20. Expect a Few Tears
As exciting as it is moving into your dorm room and finally having the freedom you’ve been craving, college move-in day can also be a very emotional time. If you’re like most college freshmen, when your parents say goodbye and pull away in the car, expect a few tears (from both you and your parents). It’s a perfectly normal and expected part of the college transition. But don’t worry, you’ll eventually get into the groove, find your tribe and settle into your new home away from home.
21. Take Plenty of Pictures & Relax
Whatever you do, make sure you snap a few pictures throughout the day. You’re only a college freshman once in your life and you’ll want to go back and look at the pictures four years from now when you’re an official college grad. Plus, it’s fun to reminisce about what a total “newbie” you were back then! Throughout the day, be sure to also take a few big deep breaths. Don’t let the move-in day stress you out – take things in stride and have fun. Enjoy this time in your life!